Rally hopes to end controversial police brutality policy

Posted at 8:46 AM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 23:37:22-04

Groups of activists are speaking out against a policy that keeps victims of police abuse silent.

They say that victims of police abuse are forced to trade their first amendment rights for a monetary settlement with the city. On Wednesday, those activists are hosting a rally inspired by the 2013 death of Tyrone West who died during a traffic stop.

And this is not the first rally in West's honor, every Wednesday since he died his family holds a demonstration in his memory. West died during a struggle with police and his family filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against 11 officers.

An independent review board found police didn't use excessive force but also didn't follow protocol. West's death also caught the attention of the US Justice Department, along with the death of Freddie Gray, that there were cases of excessive force and unlawful arrests in Baltimore.

West's family settled his death for a million dollars, $600,000 of which was paid by the city, $400,000 by the state. But the settlement came with a price, a confidentiality agreement that prevents the family from telling their side of the story.

And while West's death helped bring changes in policy and procedure, including the Baltimore Police consent decree with the justice department, activists want the gag order policy that keeps victims silent changed.

Organizers including West's sister Tawanda Jones will gathered in downtown Baltimore Wednesday night to end the police requiring confidentiality agreements that silence victims of police abuse as a condition of settling their cases.

"It stops families from speaking out about what happened, it stops them from identifying the officers that were involved and the community needs to definitely be aware, said Jones.

Jones says Gag Orders silence victims and prevent victim input in police reform efforts.